WIA Program Drives Unemployment Office into 21st Century

Thanks to the nationwide WIA program*, the unemployment office will never be the same. Today, what begins at a local unemployment office ends with career beneficial technical and professional training. Through the Workforce Investment Act (WIA), county specific unemployment offices in the Chicagoland area and around the country are doing more than connecting out-of-work individuals with new jobs; they are investing in the next generation workforce.

The WIA program couldn’t operate without the carefully selected training providers that offer IT and professional development training. Because of WIA, out-of-work individuals are able to receive high caliber IT and business training at no cost to them. While no person is exempt from bustling around to unemployment offices in efforts to secure WIA funds, once an individual is approved for training by an official unemployment office, the out-of-work experience changes for the better. One Chicagoland WIA program recipient recalls his first impression of a WIA-eligible training provider, saying, “It’s almost like concierge service.”

If you are currently unemployed and seeking a WIA-eligible training provider, look for a training source that acts like a concierge service, not an unemployment office. These training organizations exist to elevate people in their future jobs. By all means, find the best so you can do your best.

Before discussing what to look for in a WIA-eligible training provider, let’s dive a bit deeper into what the WIA program is.

What is the WIA Program?

In 1998, the Workforce Investment Act became law. A responsibility of the US Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration (DOLETA), the WIA program is said to, “…provide workforce investment activities, through statewide and local workforce investment systems, that increase the employment, retention, and earnings of participants, and increase occupational skill attainment by participants, and, as a result, improve the quality of the workforce, reduce welfare dependency, and enhance the productivity and competitiveness of the Nation.”

Today, WIA grants are available to select candidates in each state. In focusing on Illinois, and the Chicagoland area in particular, WIA grant recipients can receive upwards of $10,000 (in certain counties) for IT and professional development training at approved training facilities.

Finding a WIA Program Training Provider

The quest to secure WIA funding is different for every person. But a general overview may look something like this:

Schedule Orientation with Local Unemployment Office

  • Choose a local unemployment office in the county where you live or worked last
  • Contact the unemployment office by phone to collect more information
  • Attend orientation meetings

Complete Pre-Qualification Work

  • Fill out paperwork
  • Attend mandatory job skills classes

Case Manager Assigned

  • After you submit paperwork, a case manager will be assigned to your case
  • A case manager will help you narrow your list of WIA-eligible training providers

Visit & Select WIA-Eligible Training Providers

  • Schedule appointments at 2-3 WIA-eligible training providers
  • Obtain program paperwork from each provider
  • Select a WIA-eligible training provider and alert the case manager of your decision

Submit Paperwork for Grant Approval

  • Approval may take 10-15 business days

Chicago resident Jacob Cynamon-Murphy chronicled his journey to find a WIA-eligible training provider on his blog. In response to the over 100 comments he received after posting these articles, Jacob stresses that the WIA program is different in every county and different for each person. Nevertheless, if you want a taste of what you might experience while seeking WIA funds, consider reading these posts:

From the Unemployment Office to the WIA Program

Getting WIA funds can feel like a “step up” from the unemployment office, but finding the right WIA-eligible training provider can infuse your out-of-work experience with the feeling of a “concierge service.” This is how individuals feel when they connect with the WIA program at Directions Training.

At Directions, we help guide unemployed individuals down training paths that will advance their careers. More so, we offer support for them in their job searches. Working with Directions’ WIA program includes:

  • One-on-one assessment of career goals
  • Discuss challenges of job market and gain access to job postings
  • Receive a learning path customized for you
  • Attend live, instructor-led training courses
  • Résumé and cover letter services are available through A Better Résumé Service
  • Bonus LinkedIn tips and tricks workshop
  • Access to on-site career fairs

Pursuing Directions’ WIA Program

Once you decide Directions is the WIA-eligible training provider you want to use, follow these steps to begin our unique program.

  • Meet with your case manager at the unemployment office and let him or her know you’ve researched schools and would like to go with Directions Training
  • Notify Directions of your school choice, this will ensure a customized career package and appropriate books are ordered
  • Depending on funding, your case manager may issue you a training voucher in as little as 14 days
  • Drop off the training voucher at Directions Training prior to your class start date

The WIA program is driving out-of-work Chicagoans to the unemployment offices with the promise of funding their professional advancement. With the WIA program, now the WIOA program, it is possible to receive technical and professional training at no cost to you.

If you are exploring the WIA program, learn more about how Directions Training caters to WIA students in DuPage and Cook counties. For more information, visit our website: https://www.directionstraining.com/WIA. You can also contact the Director of WIA Programs at WIA@directionstraining.com or by calling 630.303.9865.

*The acronym WIA (Workforce Investment Act) has been changed to WIOA (Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act).


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